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Saturday, October 04, 2008

CCCII - Learning to live with the mother-in-law Aunty Dee*...

*I was going to name the post after the proverbial mother-in-law (the ultimate PITA**) but as I am quite fond of The Man's mother, thought I would name it Aunty Dee - the name I used to call my Happy Pills. (Anti - Depressants = Aunty Dee...geddit...?)

This is my new way to try and decided how to describe my Black Dog (which is now being effectively managed) - Learning to live with Aunty Dee...

Image your whole entire self as a house - everyone has a self that is a house. You may have a room or a cupboard you store your emotions in, a place for memories...you get the idea.

When you get depression, it is like an earthquake comes through your house. If you have ever seen houses that have survived that kind of a natural disaster, you know that sometimes, the house looks fine, but after a while structural damage causes it to fall apart (aka Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) - however, from the outside the house generally looks find. The problem in that inside the house, everything you own (your thoughts and ideas) are scattered all over the place. All your shelves and cupboards, and sometimes even the walls, are now rubble. Everything that is you is tangled up with everything else that is you and it is impossible to find anything. All of a sudden you don't recognise this place as being your house, just like when you get depression, you lose your sense of self - your whole personality changes.

Some people, when this sort of thing happens, need a lot of help to try and get the house looking normal again. This was the stage I was at when I was first prescribed anti-depressants. Taking anti-depressants is like a big, bellowing, bossy woman*** (who you are probably not related to, but still call Aunty) coming to live with you. Hence, Aunty Dee.

Now the problem with Aunty Dee is that she wants everything spick'n'span and tidy. With a Mary Poppins-like click of the fingers she has all your shelves and cupboards repaired. The very next thing Aunty Dee does is begin to put everything away. The trouble is, that Aunty Dee doesn't care where she puts things, just as long as they are out of sight.

The mistake lots of people with broken house and mental illness make here is that they get rid of Aunty Dee - which is a problem because usually as soon as Aunty Dee is gone you get aftershocks from that first earthquake and they completely destroy your house again. Quite often you need Aunty Dee back again.... (yes, I too made this mistake and stopped taking my happy pills too early...)

So back to Aunty Dee - The most frustrating problem I had with my Aunty Dee is that she stored my vocabulary in safes protected by little electric fences... I'd know there was a specific word I wanted to use in a specific context, but couldn't find it in any of the cupboards in my house. For a while I as talking quite a bit like Homer Simpson: "where's the metal thingy you use to dig stuff?" - because Aunty Dee didn't put the word spoon in the top drawer in the kitchen. In fact - spoon wasn't even IN the kitchen at all. Spoon was probably sitting out in the garage with the power tools... The problem was all of my words had been put in the wrong place. (And I am using my vocabulary as an example - Aunty Dee messes with different people in different ways, and often in more than one way.)

Now, sometimes, people find this very frustrating and kick Aunty Dee out. Sometimes, Aunty Dee is very annoying and sets booby traps around the house. Some people think it will be easier for them to clean up the mess without Aunty Dee. I wasn't one of those people. I needed that annoying big, bellowing, bossy woman throwing her weight around in order to try and sort out my own house. So I needed to learn how to live with Aunty Dee.

This usually takes time, and sometimes, a bit of outside help, like a counsellor, a psych, a padre, a very understanding friend or partner. Someone who will listen, and at times ask the hard questions you won't ask yourself. I was lucky that I had a few people to fill this role :)

But I was still having problems with my vocabulary... so I decided to start doing some crosswords and wordgames. I started going through all the cupboards hunting for the words I was looking for - and then I discovered how much fun cryptics were (anyone for some red cheese made backwards??). I think that doing this has allowed me to find where my vocabularly has been stored, but also rebuild a lot of other links in my brain... I am learning the new places where Aunty Dee put everything...

For the moment, Aunty Dee and I are living together rather harmoniously...

**a PITA is a pain in the a$$
***I may be using some stereotypes here. I am not trying to offend anyone. Some people may find that they end up living with an Uncle Dee, but for me, Aunty Dee is a very well-formed character....

3 comments:

Lynne said...

Thank you for this post. I have had depression in the past but my GP didn't feel medication was necessary. However, I live with someone who has it and now I understand what's going on inside the head!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Jenny said...

Excellent metaphor. I appreciate this post - it makes sense to me!

Ms. Moll said...

This is an excellent description of what I've been experiencing in the last year or so - I will be directing people to your post via my blog. Thank you, from me and my Auntie Dee.